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Pushing Immigration Reform

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Two members of Congress joined faith leaders on a conference call today in Washington to announce new efforts to build support for comprehensive immigration reform. Congressman Mike Honda of California joined Congresswoman Yvette Clark both addressed the political difficulties of moving the legislation while the country suffers from an unemployment rate that hovers around 10 percent. “It’s possible,” Clark told the journalists assembled on the call, noting that as in previous years, the difficulties are likely to arise in the Senate.

Kansas City nuke plant passes, faces environmental scrutiny

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Local Kansas City, Mo. paper The Pitch reports today that one of the nation's most productive nuclear weapons manufacturing sites is operating with expired permits for hazardous waste and water discharges.

The Kansas City Plant, which manufactures mechanical and electrical non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons, has recently come under media scrutiny for claims of lethal contamination to employees and neighbors.

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency published a fact sheet regarding some 785 toxic chemicals known to be used at the plant and U.S. Senator Kit Bond called for a federal investigation of health concerns.

These revelations come one week after the Kansas City, Mo. City Council gave final approval for plans to relocate the manufacturing facility to a larger site farther away from the downtown area.

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns Project

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Growing attention is being paid to the connections between economics, environment and faith. The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns has started a "Faith-Economy-Ecology" project in order to understand the various ways in which these three crucial factors intersect. Learn more at the Faith, Economy, Ecology Web site

You'll find resources and reflections that will help you, and perhaps your community, better understand the connections between care of the Earth and all its life forms, the global economy and our faith. You will also see a sign-on statement, inviting individuals or a representative of an organization to join and seek the change we need in policy and lifestyles.

A permaculture strategy for recovery in Haiti

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The Haitian recovery will have to be down to earth, literally. Local food production is invaluable in a country where people struggle to feed themselves. According to an interview on the Wired Web site with Australian permaculture expert Geoff Hanson, the techniques of permaculture can greatly help to rehabilitate the landscape and provide sustainable livelihoods for both urban and rural dwellers there.

Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies.
Permaculture's practical development in modern times is credited to Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer on his own farm in the early 1960s and then theoretically developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and their associates during the 1970s in a series of publications. The word permaculture is a portmanteau of permanent agriculture, as well as permanent culture. Geoff Hanson is with the Australian Permaculture Research Institute.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the U.S. bishops really got behnd nuclear disarmament

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The first thing they could do is remind Catholic senators that disarmament is a moral issue and not one that should be politicized for partisanship gain. This is the height of selfishness and shortsightedness.

In the next few month the issues of the U.S. deterrence system and the place of nuclear weapons within it will come to the front burner. It would be timely to hear more from our bishops.

Feb. 10, St. Scholastica

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In the Office of Readings for the Feast of St. Scholastica we find St. Gregory's famous account of the last meeting of Scholastica and Benedict.

"She was accustomed to visiting her brother once a year. He would come down to meet her at a place on the monastery property, not far outside the gate.

"One day she came as usual and her saintly brother went with some of his disciples; they spent the whole day praising God and talking of sacred things. As night fell they had supper together.

A prelate with the mind of Ratzinger and the heart of Roncalli

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tWhile there are undoubtedly many ways to capture what’s noteworthy about Italian Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, here’s one from my experience just this week.

tTuesday morning, I was on my way to the Paul VI Audience Hall to listen to a talk by Ravasi at a conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers. I bumped into a priest friend in the Vatican, who, it’s fair to say, would probably be seen as falling on the conservative side of many church debates. When I told him I was headed to see Ravasi, his eyes lit up.

t“He’s always giving speeches,” he said, “but he always has something interesting to say.”

tLater that day, I lunched with a lay church-watcher in Rome, who conventionally would be regarded as at least somewhat liberal. When I mentioned I had spent part of the morning listening to Ravasi, she too was animated.

t“He’s amazing … brilliant, but with an incredible ability to speak to real people,” she said.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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